Alcohol and Covid-19

The Covid-19 lockdown has increased the sales of alcohol by 55%. People are bored at home and not sure what to do so they consume alcohol in the name of ‘chilling’.
But did you know you are more prone to get affected by corona virus by consuming alcohol? The disease caused by corona virus affects the respiratory system the most.

What happens when you take the first sip?
As soon as you take the first sip, your body makes it a priority above all the other functions that it carries out to metabolize the alcohol and send it out of the body. The metabolism of alcohol takes place in your liver where it is broken down into two parts viz., water and carbon dioxide. It’s the liver’s job to detoxify your body. Unlike fats and carbohydrates, alcohol can’t be stored in your body. Hence, it’s metabolism is prioritized.

When you consume too much alcohol at once, without giving proper time to your liver to carry out its metabolism, some quantity of alcohol remains in your liver and slowly starts damaging it followed by other body parts. Consumption of too much alcohol at once also pressurizes the liver to carry out its metabolism.

Liver diseases
I. Fatty liver
When alcohol remains in the liver, it develops molecules that inhibit fat oxidation in the liver and lead to condition called fatty liver.
This condition seen in 90% of the people who consume 45ml-60ml per day.
If you drink that much or more on many days of the week, chances are that you are already on the first stage of fatty liver.
Symptoms include sudden weight loss, pain above the abdomen and fatigue.
Although this disease can be treated by completely stopping the consumption of alcohol for six weeks.

II. Liver Hepatitis
During the metabolism of breaking down alcohol, highly toxic chemicals are released. These chemicals lead to inflammation destroying the liver cells hence, causing the replacement of healthy tissues by scar tissues.
The amount of alcohol that leads to this condition is not yet known. However, consumption of 105ml of hard drinks or seven beers or seven glasses of vine or seven shots of spirits over a long period of time might put you at risk.

Symptoms include nausea and vomiting, abdominal tenderness, loss of appetite and often low grade fever.

III. Liver Cirrhosis
It is the most advanced form of liver disease which starts with fatty liver to liver Hepatitis and at last liver Cirrhosis. Sometimes a person might develop Liver Cirrhosis without undergoing Liver Hepatitis.
When the healthy liver tissues are replaced by scar tissues, it becomes difficult for the liver to function.
Hence, the body does not produce enough protein or filter the toxins as required. This leads to liver damage.
Symptoms include Jaundice, skin itching., Etc

• Note to the heavy drinkers
If you spot a yellow tinge on your skin, pain in the upper right portion of your abdomen or have a sudden weight loss, consult your doctor immediately.

Bacterial growth in the gut
Sometimes because of alcohol, bacteria grows in the gut and then moves to the intestinal wall and then to the liver Hence, damaging it.

• Effects on heart
Alcohol causes a condition called cardiomyopathy, in which the heart becomes weak. It also causes irregular heart beat pattern known as arrhythmia.
Some people might also develop the problem of high blood pressure.

• Effects on Immune system
The people who drink everyday or almost everyday, might catch cold, cough, flue or other illness very soon as compared to the people who don’t drink.
Alcohol weakens your immune system and makes you prone to all the infections.

• Effects on respiratory system
Excessive drinking damages the lungs. The airway starts altering over a period of time, making the inhalation process difficult, decreasing the production of saliva and also increasing the risk of bacterial growth in the mouth. These factors further lead to lung disease and infections. As the immunity decreases, the risk of the spread of bacteria into the windpipe and lungs also increases.

• Respiratory system diseases

  1. Alcoholic Pneumonia
    Alcohol weakens the function of processing the bacteria in the body. The immune function in the lower airways is also weakened, thereby weakening the body’s ability to remove mucus from the lungs. This leads to aspiration.
    Pneumonia often leads to death.
    Symptoms include excessive coughing, fever or chills, chest pain, shortness of breath, sweating, etc.
  2. Additional lung diseases caused by alcohol
    • Tuberculosis
    • Sepsis
    • Lung infection
    • Aspiration
    • Severity in asthma cases

Other effects
It might lead to cancer of mouth, throat, liver, pancreas, oesophagus or breast.
Pancreatic inflammation is also a result of alcohol.

Hence, consumption of alcohol causes various harm to your body. So next time you brag about you drinking tolerance and capacity, know that the jokes are on you.
As we battle Covid-19, it’s important for us to do every possible thing and keep our immunity system strong.
Covid-19 affects the respiratory system therefore, we must avoid everything that affects our respiratory system.
As for alcohol, it affects our immunity system as well as respiratory system. So it’s a request to everyone to avoid alcohol as it makes you more prone to Covid-19. There won’t be any chilling if you won’t be living.

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